Resilient and courageous: the stories behind the Australian BRW GE Capital Mid-Market Awards

James Thomson Editor

Resilient and courageous: the stories behind the BRW GE Capital Mid-Market Awards

Published 22 August 2013 09:01, Updated 22 August 2013 13:07

Adam Spencer, radio star and the MC of the inaugural BRW GE Capital Mid-Market Awards held in Sydney on Wednesday night, had done his homework. The small Victorian town of Longwarry, home to the winner of the Mid-Market Award for best regional business, could claim two great successes, Spencer told us. Not only was the town a Mid-Market award winner, but it was also home to Lenny Morel, who was named Australian Banjo Player of the Year for 2012. I’m not sure which award will be held up highest down in the main drag of Longwarry, but I do know this – it’s businesses like Longwarry Food Park that typify the spirit and resilience of the mid market. The business was born out of failure. Owner Rakesh Aggarwal, an engineer by trade, took the gamble of his life when he bought an abandoned milk powder plant in 2001, four years after it had been decommissioned. He redesigned the plant, restructured the business and set about creating a $75 million powerhouse, where exports account for 75 per cent of sales. Then, another disaster struck. In February 2012, fire shut the plant for seven weeks, leaving a damages bill of $5 million. But Longwarry Park wasn’t going to be stopped. It bought more milk than it needed from its suppliers, which it on-sold at a loss to competitors, and it arranged with its insurance company to allow employees to work on the clean-up so no jobs were lost.The guest speaker on the Mid-Market Awards, Wallabies legend and Centric Wealth chief executive Phil Kearns, summed up what great mid-market businesses have: a huge focus on people, great gut feel, a knowledge that decisions matter and a willingness to take calculated risks.

The Longwarry story has all these elements, of course, but it also demonstrates just how important mid-market businesses are to the wider economy.

These are our major employers, particularly in regional areas. These are the businesses that create jobs and take risks and see opportunity where others can’t.

This is the engine room of the Australian economy.

Below is a list of all our winners, with links to their profiles. Every single one has a fabulous back story, and lots of lessons about growth and resilience. We’re thrilled to be associated with them.


Best Mid-market Business ($10m to $50m): K Care Healthcare Equipment

Best Mid-Market Business ($50m to $100m): Pronto Software

Best Mid-market Business ($100m to $250m): McColls Transport

Digital Innovation in the Mid-Market: Booktopia

Best Mid-market Leader: Mega Pacific

Best Mid-Market Exporter: Wrays

Environmental Innovation in the Mid-Market: Seeley International

Best Mid-Market Business in Regional Australia: Longwarry Food Park

Best Mid-Market Rising Star: Monford Group

Best Mid-Market Rising Star: E3 Style

GE Excellence Award: Grill’d

About bambooinnovator
Kee Koon Boon (“KB”) is the co-founder and director of HERO Investment Management which provides specialized fund management and investment advisory services to the ARCHEA Asia HERO Innovators Fund (, the only Asian SMID-cap tech-focused fund in the industry. KB is an internationally featured investor rooted in the principles of value investing for over a decade as a fund manager and analyst in the Asian capital markets who started his career at a boutique hedge fund in Singapore where he was with the firm since 2002 and was also part of the core investment committee in significantly outperforming the index in the 10-year-plus-old flagship Asian fund. He was also the portfolio manager for Asia-Pacific equities at Korea’s largest mutual fund company. Prior to setting up the H.E.R.O. Innovators Fund, KB was the Chief Investment Officer & CEO of a Singapore Registered Fund Management Company (RFMC) where he is responsible for listed Asian equity investments. KB had taught accounting at the Singapore Management University (SMU) as a faculty member and also pioneered the 15-week course on Accounting Fraud in Asia as an official module at SMU. KB remains grateful and honored to be invited by Singapore’s financial regulator Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to present to their top management team about implementing a world’s first fact-based forward-looking fraud detection framework to bring about benefits for the capital markets in Singapore and for the public and investment community. KB also served the community in sharing his insights in writing articles about value investing and corporate governance in the media that include Business Times, Straits Times, Jakarta Post, Manual of Ideas, Investopedia, TedXWallStreet. He had also presented in top investment, banking and finance conferences in America, Italy, Sydney, Cape Town, HK, China. He has trained CEOs, entrepreneurs, CFOs, management executives in business strategy & business model innovation in Singapore, HK and China.

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